Is Your Leadership Ready for Agile?

Technology:  The traditional people resource model is impacted.  Scrum Teams require employee dedication, for building a high performing dynamic and reliable pace (velocity).  To sustain them, you need to ensure a steady pipeline of valuable work.  This requires true collaboration with the business.   And when the team delivers successfully, leadership needs to resist the urge to pick apart its members.  Would you disband a sports team after winning the championship?  Infrastructure needs to support continuous integration and frequent releases.  If you are considering Dev Ops, you are well on your way.  The Agile journey could take a few years, so the biggest challenge to Scrum Teams in the interim will be Waterfall interfaces.  Scrum Teams are fast moving and deliver with a greater degree of uncertainty in requirements, all are unfamiliar territory to the Waterfall groups.  A good deal of interface coordination needs to happen. Last but not least, get used to the transparency.  You will come to appreciate those predictive metrics.

HR:  New roles and career paths will need to be defined: Scrum Masters, Product Owners, Coaches, and Agile adoption enablers.   The performance review process is impacted as well, to reward team success instead of individual achievement.  Some organizations opted to trigger the cultural shift to agility by re-organizing or thinning the middle management layer, to enable team empowerment.  HR needs to be very much part of the Agile transformation.

Finance:   When standing up teams for Agile, funding shifts from project to team funding.  Budgeting is simplified.  What Finance leadership needs to get used to, is a level of scope uncertainty.  This requires trust, in the team and Product Owner to make the right scope tradeoff decisions.  Organizations start to experience a shift towards business value, and away from cost savings.  You don’t hear Google bragging about how much money they saved on people, instead you hear about their innovations.  How?  They elevate their talent pool.  Next, don’t forget to budget for Agile overhead:  training, coaches, tools, and employee dedication.  Last thought to the Finance leader, you need to have some leeway for R&D or innovation lab type work, where the team acquires seed funding to test out an idea.  Perhaps not appropriate for every team, but certainly for your emerging products.  Finance’s agility will help drive Agile adoption.

Business, Operations, & Product Groups:   Business engagement level is significantly higher with Agile.  Not only will the Product Owner need to dedicate enough time, they also need to be knowledgeable and empowered to make on the spot Product decisions.  In other words, the Business role shifts from project manager profile to true product ownership.  The enterprise needs to support them with a clear Vision and a push to innovate.  Our most successful Product Owners do two things really well:  Alignment and Tradeoffs.  Assigning the “right” Product Owner will make the difference to your project success.

PMO:  Central compliance groups will experience a cultural shift to team empowerment, impacting audit processes.  Metrics tracked for Agile are different, and are focused on value rather than productivity or cost.  New standards and organizations structures will emerge like Scrum of Scrums.  The PMO will typically feel the impact as you start to scale.

Facilities:   Your facilities will be hit with demand for team co-location space.  If you don’t solve it by configuring sufficient collaboration spaces, the Scrum Teams will commandeer you conference rooms!

This is not meant to scare you.  Our aim is to highlight that Agile transforms your entire organization, so you can better prepare for this journey.


Our Guest Blogger, Deema Dajani, is an Agile transformation specialist & enterprise coach, and can be reached at: